Coral Wynter

The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney hosted a talk by Basque activist Endika Zarrabeitia Salterain on February 3.

Zarrabeitia is a member of SORTU, a left Basque political party fighting for independence from Spain in a framework of moving towards socialism.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon introduced the evening, reminding the audience of the high number of Australian workers and Communist Party members, who fought on behalf of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War in 1935.

Australian-New Zealand mining company Oceana Gold has destroyed the isolated rural village of Didipio in the mountains of Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya, a province of the Philippines.

Oceana Gold has operated one of six mining projects in the Philippines covered by the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) since 1994. Fierce resistance from villagers, legal struggles and the financial problems of the company meant it was only this year that Oceana Gold was able to ship out its first 5000 tons of copper-gold concentrate.

Groups in Australia have claimed for several years that low-frequency noise and inaudible sound levels from wind farms have affected people’s health by causing sleep disturbance, headaches, tinnitus, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, fast heart rate, poor concentration and episodes of panic.

In 2011, the Victorian Liberal government used these claims to place a ban on windfarms being built within two kilometres of residential areas.

Is there any basis to these claims?

The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 13 that human genes cannot be patented.

This surprise decision is a victory for women who need genetic testing to detect whether they carry a genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

But the ruling has much broader implications. It puts in jeopardy thousands of patents already granted on human genes over the past 30 years.

The fertile plains of the Ord River Irrigation Area around Kununurra in Western Australia are being transformed by plantations of Indian sandalwood, Santalum album

It is the largest commercial production of Indian sandalwood in the world. In more than 60% of the total farming area around Kununurra, about 3500 hectares, sandalwood has supplanted food crops such as melons, pumpkins, legumes, chick peas, bananas, and many other crops.

A landmark ruling in Sydney on February 15 gave the biotechnology industry an unprecedented right to make huge profits from genetic testing.

The case involved the breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 and the right of US biotechnology company Myriad Genetics to have exclusive licence to a patent over their use in research.

Federal Court Justice John Nicholas had ruled that a private company can continue to hold a patent over an isolated gene, in this case, the BRCA gene. The BRCA gene is responsible for repairing or removing defective DNA cells.

About 300 students from the Paraguayan National University and the private Catholic University marched to the national police headquarters in Asuncion on October 25 to protest the new Law of Higher Education (LES).

The law passed through the lower house of the Paraguayan Congress three weeks earlier, and is currently before the Upper House.

During the protest, Romilio Gonzalez and Johana Orihuela, members of the Popular University Movement, spoke to Green Left Weekly.

“This is one of a number of actions we are carrying out,” Orihuela said.

In a show of force, about 10,000 supporters of the Frente Guasu attended a rally addressed by the party’s leader, ex-president of Paraguay Fernando Lugo, in the regional city of Coronel Ovideo on October 25.

Lugo was deposed in June in a parliamentary coup. Lugo's removal was organised by right-wing forces opposed to progressive changes that threatening to challenge the interests of the traditional oligarchy and US imperialism.

As the final weeks of the Venezuelan presidential election campaign unfold, an intense battle of ideas is under way. The poll on October 7 is looming as one of the most important elections in the country´s history.

“My plan is to demolish the ultra-right so that a true opposition arises, because I am ready to work with them,” Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez told a mass rally of supporters of his re-election campaign in the Caracas neighbourhood of Charallave on September 9.

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